Stephanie Costolo, Editor of Resident Magazine: Center Education Helps Every Day

Stephanie Costolo

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

Though she's immersed in the business of publishing a glossy lifestyle magazine, Stephanie Costolo still puts into practice the lessons she learned while taking graduate courses at the Center for Entrepreneurship in the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business.

"During my time in the entrepreneurship program," she said, "I learned an incredible amount of useful information which has helped me get to where I am and I'm confident it will continue to assist me as I move forward with plans and goals for the future."

In her first semester, she applied for and was accepted into the Student Innovation Incubator, USF's program to foster creativity among its students by giving them a place to stage their business development.

The center recently was ranked No. 10 in the U.S. for graduate entrepreneurship programs and was named the best program in the Southeast by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. The center also won USF World's Global Achievement Award for extending USF's global footprint.

"This program really helped me network with other student entrepreneurs, faculty, local business leaders and mentors," she said. "It was a truly worthwhile experience.

"I gained knowledge on entity formation, learning what type of business entity was the right fit for my goals," she said. "I also better understood the differences between employees and sub-contractors and which would be best for my organization."

One course that was helpful in her entrepreneurial career was a business planning course in which students took a concept from beginning through the end; kind of like what she's doing now.

"This forced me to think through every detail of my plan including personnel, supplies, expenses, marketing, etc." she said. "It was a valuable learning tool for me."

Costolo, who graduated in December, now is editor-in-chief of Resident Magazine, a monthly full-color glossy lifestyle publication that circulates among homes in Wesley Chapel and New Tampa.

"We focus on high-quality editorial content by bringing in local contributing writers who are experts in their fields," said the 32-year-old writer/editor. "We also interview extraordinary community members who are doing great things. And recently, we wrote a story about a Tampa Bay survivor of human trafficking and examined the broader picture of the issue itself."

She said the goals of the magazine, which she acquired in June, are two-fold.

"The first is a social goal, which is to deliver relevant, useful information to the residents of these communities in a way that helps create an identity and tie people together," she said. "Our second goal is to have the highest return on investment for our advertisers of any other print media."

As editor, she is called upon almost every day to be creative, and for that, she credits what she learned at the center.

"A course that stands out to me is creativity and design," she said. "We learned different techniques for accessing our creativity and working in a team setting to narrow a large set of unrelated ideas down to one cohesive plan. I've since used those techniques a number of times in my business."

The lessons learned at the center, she said, help her every day.

"I highly recommend the program," she said, "to anyone with a longing to be an entrepreneur."